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*** UPDATED x1 *** Arbitrator again rules against Quinn administration on union contracts

Monday, Oct 3, 2011

* The same arbitrator who ruled in July that Gov. Pat Quinn could not halt scheduled, contractual pay raises for union employees ruled today that the governor cannot lay people off or close facilities under provisions Quinn agreed to with the union. The full decision is here. From the opinion…

The language of the Cost Savings Agreements is clear and unambiguous. The repeated promises made by the State in the negotiated words found in the Cost Savings Agreements — “… the parties agree that there shall be no temporary or indeterminate layoffs through the end of FY2012 (June 30, 2012) nor shall the state close any facilities … [and] there shall be no temporary or indeterminate layoffs through the end of FY2012 (June 30, 2012), nor shall the State close any facilities prior to July 1, 2012” — could not be clearer. Those words simply mean what they say — i.e., there will be “no” layoffs or facility closures prior to July 1, 2012. With that clear language, there is no need for a hearing concerning what was involved in the negotiation of that language.

You’ll recall that Quinn agreed to the no-layoff, no-closure issue last year during the campaign. AFSCME was supposed to come up with corresponding budget cuts to mitigate the costs.

* However, as with the pay raise issue, this case will undoubtedly be ultimately decided in the courts. Back to the opinion

I have issued this award on an expedited basis. As with the July 2011 Wage Increase Award, litigation in the courts will no doubt now follow. Given the importance of this case, one would hope that any judicial determinations will also be handled on an expedited basis. This case must be expedited by all involved

* The arbitrator also reiterated what he wrote about the consequences of the governor’s usage of “subject to appropriation” language to subvert a union contract

If the State is correct in its statutory and Constitutional arguments, the result will be that public sector employers and unions will have to negotiate collective bargaining agreements every year instead of having multiyear agreements (typically three to five years and sometimes longer) which bring labor peace and stability. Some public sector contracts in this state have taken years to negotiate or settle through the interest arbitration process under Section 14 of the IPLRA. Having been involved in the collective bargaining process as a mediator and interest arbitrator for over 25 years, I estimate that thousands of multi-year collective bargaining agreements have been settled in this state.

If the State is correct that economic provisions of multi-year collective bargaining agreements are not enforceable or are contingent upon subsequent appropriations for the out years of the agreements, then the collective bargaining process will be, to say the least, severely undermined. If the State is correct, the result will be most chaotic and costly as public sector employers and unions will now have to drudge through the often laborious, time consuming and costly collective bargaining process on a yearly basis. Unions will do that. Public sector employers will be loathe to have to engage in that costly and time consuming endeavor on a yearly basis. If the State is correct in its statutory and Constitutional arguments, the multi-year collective bargaining agreement is, for all purposes, probably dead.

*** UPDATE *** From the governor’s office…

“The actions taken by the Administration last month are necessary to manage a budget that underfunded the operational and personnel lines in a number of state agencies. This ruling does not change the fact that the money to run all these facilities for the entire year was not appropriated by the General Assembly. You can’t spend money you don’t have.

“Arbitrator Benn concedes that he does not have jurisdiction over the Illinois Constitution and statutes that apply to this issue, and both the Constitution and statutes remain to be addressed by the courts. We will seek to stay and vacate the decision while we continue to manage the budget so that core services the people of Illinois depend upon can be provided for the entire year.”

* Related…

* Illinois Arbitrator Stops Quinn’s Plan to Dismiss 1,900 Workers

* Arbitrator Says Quinn’s Layoffs Violate Union Contract

* Arbitrator rejects Quinn’s layoff, closure plan

* Sen. Brady: Quinn not being sincere with closures

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Reality Check - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:18 pm:

    Take a look at the ruling. If anyone is wrongfully laid off, the arbitrator ordered the state to pay damages including lost wages, insurance, medical costs, even house and car payments if layoff would cause foreclosure, eviction or repossession.

    Time for Quinn to stop the madness and follow the contract he negotiated and signed.

    Either that or he should come out and say he doesn’t believe in the right to collective bargaining. He can’t have it both ways.

  2. - 47th Ward - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:20 pm:

    Is there any word on how AFSCME is doing on its part to find $400 million in savings? Seems like neither side is living up to its end of the deal.

  3. - Regular Reader - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:27 pm:

    If the contract didn’t say “subject to appropriations” then the contract isn’t subject to appropriations.

    However, this creates some very interesting problems. If the governor signs a contract, is the GA now obligated to appropriate the money?

  4. - 47th Ward - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:35 pm:

    ===In 2010, the State of Illinois and AFSCME Council 31 entered into a series of concession-granting agreements in which the Union agreed to reduce the State’s financial obligations under the parties’ 2008-2012 collective bargaining agreement by approximately $400,000,000. In return for those concessions agreed to by the Union and the employees, the State guaranteed that no employees represented by the Union would be laid off through June 30, 2012 and, with certain exceptions not relevant to this dispute, there would be no closures of State facilities prior to July 1, 2012.===

    From the arbitrator’s decision. Whether the governor’s office is complaining about this or not, it seems reasonable to ask AFSCME how that’s going. Seems like $400 million in current contract savings would go a long way to helping prevent layoffs while giving Quinn some budgetary breathing room.


  5. - wordslinger - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:37 pm:

    Meh, without any enforcement authority an arbitrator is just another guy.

    The old Constitution writers didn’t foresee every possibility, did they?

  6. - Roadiepig - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 12:37 pm:

    The arbitrator states the obvious- that both the pay raise and layoffs decisions are violations of the agreement. Doesn’t matter though- a court sympathetic to his side will rule in his favor soon enough. What I thought was interesting was how much emphasis the arbitrator put into his beliefs in what Quinn’s decision to use appropriations will do to end long term contracts. The mess that will cause for everyone will be Quinn’s legacy for this bit of gamesmanship

  7. - Ahoy - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:01 pm:

    Did AFSME ever come up with $100 million in budget savings? Was it ever published?

  8. - He Makes Ryan Look Like a Saint - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:06 pm:

    Just like the Blago administration, Quinn Administration will not follow the rulings, they make up the rules as they go.

  9. - Fed up - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:14 pm:

    At least Scott Walker was honest about what he was going to do. Quinn took the union money took the union endorsement and then threw them under the bus.

  10. - Pat Collins - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:16 pm:

    The old Constitution writers didn’t foresee every possibility, did they?

    Uh, I don’t consider 1970 to be that old…..

    But in fact, it shows just how bad an administrator Quinn is. He can’t /won’t understand the consequences of his actions.

    Where oh where is the 1980 Quinn? What space alien took him??

  11. - walkinfool - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:33 pm:

    Agreements have two sides. If AFSCME cannot prove $400M in savings due to their own actions, then the agreement is probably void. That is why this is for a court to decide. Curious, though, that the state isn’t focusing on that argument so far. Perhaps AFSCME did hold up their end on cost savings.

  12. - Boone's is Back - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===Curious, though, that the state isn’t focusing on that argument so far. Perhaps AFSCME did hold up their end on cost savings. ===

    Just bc the administration isnt focusing on it doesn’t mean that AFSCME held their end of the bargain up. The Quinn administration has a knack for being severely unfocused. For god’s sakes the man stuffs dozens of notes into his brief case every day to be “discovered” by staffers. He’s like the Easter bunny.

  13. - Wickedred - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:42 pm:

    Although I don’t have it in front of me, yes, AFSCME members actually came up with more than $100 million in savings. The administration would not go along with some of the other savings that were proposed, but at least that much was found.

  14. - Reality is - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:55 pm:

    Afscme didnt have to make 400 million in cuts, thats up the the government, they just had to identify 400 million in possible savings. I am sure that wasn’t difficult to do.

  15. - Pelon - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 1:56 pm:

    == Curious, though, that the state isn’t focusing on that argument so far. Perhaps AFSCME did hold up their end on cost savings. ==

    Another issue is that management has been denying some employee furloughs for questionable “operational needs”. It will be hard for Quinn to argue that the union didn’t do enough when his management team has prevented employees from trying to help out.

  16. - Irish - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 2:00 pm:

    I am waiting for a discrimination lawsuit to be filed in the pay raise debacle. The rescinding of pay raises was not applied to every agency.

    So if my raise is taken away yet someone else in another agency does not lose theirs then that is discrimination.

    This is the argument that needs to be presented, if this is truly because the GA did not appropriate enough money to cover all personnel then why are only select personnel being punished? What happened to “everybody in, no one left out”?

    Sounds alot Blagojevichesque to me. Make it up, lie to cover it up, and blame someone else.

  17. - Jim - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 3:04 pm:

    Did AFSCME come up with the promised savings?

  18. - Scottish - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 3:19 pm:

    Remember when CMS had to prove all those savings and the Auditor General cited it in their audit? There are important savings being cited - union savings, health insurance savings, property management savings. Seems another savings audit may be in order.

  19. - zatoichi - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 4:18 pm:

    Read the ruling which repeatedly says no layoffs or closings are allowed by the contract until June 30. Didn’t read anywhere that said facilities had to stay at their current census. Move half the residents from a state facility into a community setting or to another setting and then work within state facility staffing ratio agreements.

    This was not addressed in the opinion, but what is the estimated costs to close these programs. I keep seeing numbers of $30M-$35M per facility. The closure costs are not in the current budget so that is additional costs that have to come from somewhere that has money. Throw 4-5 closures together and this easily jumps over the $140M+ range. Other state programs or community providers get hit again?

  20. - State Worker - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 6:05 pm:

    I agree…at least Scott Walker told the Union workers he was going to screw them…Quinn takes the cowards way out.

  21. - park - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 6:40 pm:

    Quinn treats State employees like a bank. So long as every social program a leftie like him can think of is funded 120%, he’ll be happy to give the promised raise, and not close facilities (so long as the contributions continue). People like him are the reasons that unions exist. I’m surprised the unionized rate in State employees is not more like 99.9%

  22. - Happy Returns - Monday, Oct 3, 11 @ 10:07 pm:

    Wow, folks. 21st Century. We don’t have flying cars for everyone, but we do have unfettered access to information at a level never before seen in all of human history.

    Yet, people take time to type out and ask an answered question rather than Search it out themselves.

    Hell, the answer is posted right on this very website:

    The bottom line is that the state certified, as a condition prior to entering the agreement, that AFSCME had met it’s obligation to find savings. It’s isn’t a mystery, or some question that is still up in the air, it’s a historical fact.

    The reason the state isn’t arguing that ‘AFSCME didn’t fulfill savings requirement’ is that the state said that AFSCME did fulfill the savings requirement, in the agreement.

    The Agreement even lists savings ideas the union had. They got halfway to $50 million just by deferring raises.

  23. - Scottish - Tuesday, Oct 4, 11 @ 8:13 am:

    @happy returns - What you will find in Illinois is that unless it is audited, nothing is a fact. The savings have not been verified, and some of the savings proposals were already on the table before the union was involved. There has been no real accountability - if someone puts it on paper it must be true? Look around at the nation’s financial crisis and let me know if you still agree.

  24. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 4, 11 @ 8:56 am:

    –I agree…at least Scott Walker told the Union workers he was going to screw them…–

    No, he did not.

  25. - Happy Returns - Tuesday, Oct 4, 11 @ 1:08 pm:

    @ Scottish - What Would an audit prove that we don’t already know? If the state let AFSCME count it in their pile, what difference does it make if it was ‘already on th e table’? (Beyond academics?) AFSCME met whatever low bar the state set. As a legal matter, it’s a fact. You can’t convince me that there is a method of auditing this that it would make sense to pay for

  26. - Wickedred - Tuesday, Oct 4, 11 @ 6:40 pm:

    Can people stop saying the answer is moving people out of state facilities into community group homes? There are currently 21,000 people IN the community waiting for said services. There are 3,000 in state centers. 21,000 waiting in the community (with parents, in foster care, respite care, etc) to get into some type of community placement. These people are much more likely to be placed easily than someone with a history of placement in a state op.
    What state centers job to do is, from day one, prepare each person to eventually move out and into community services.
    Illinois has been systematically cutting the money from this line for several years, and this year is no exception. Can’t put people out if there is no money for them.

  27. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Oct 4, 11 @ 11:40 pm:

    Happy Returns, thanks. You’re one of the many reasons I love Capitolfax.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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